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DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

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DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby TrossProx » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:35 am

I came across a similar post about choosing DAW and this forum gave great recommendations, so hopefully you'll indulge me here!

Here's what I can think of now as far as wishlist:

1) Versatility as far as musical styles. I do want to try trance/progressive production, but also things along the lines of film/video game scoring, jazz/rock, etc.
2) Great "musical" features, meaning features that make sense in a more "natural human" scenario. Such as ease of tempo change (gradual/sudden/give and take or rubato), and probably other things I can't think of right now. Basically, tools that would be desirable in an ensemble or orchestral production, not just dance/electronica.
3) Good MIDI interfacing with Sibelius. I understand this is fairly simple now (?), but maybe some DAWs work better or are less buggy.
4) (Bonus) I'm not set up for this currently, but I am interested in working with some live sounds especially in the context of recording ambient sounds, nature sounds, etc. This isn't strictly music, now getting more into the realm of audio track production for film etc., but maybe someone has an idea about this.

I know that's pretty broad, and I also know that DAWs have converged a lot in recent years. So maybe there isn't a "best" choice, but maybe something here will jump out at an experienced guru and you'll have a suggestion. Thanks!
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Wonks » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:23 am

Hi and welcome.

Are you on Mac or PC? Some DAWs are cross platform, some are platform specific.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby TrossProx » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:05 pm

Wonks wrote:Hi and welcome.

Are you on Mac or PC? Some DAWs are cross platform, some are platform specific.


Thanks. Right, I am on PC.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:16 pm

So Logic is out, but have you experience of any specific DAW, maybe a 'Lite' demo version? Basically they all do the same job (as you suggest) but the easiest/most 'intuitive' is the one you already know.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby TrossProx » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:31 pm

I have not. That sounds like a good idea, are there a couple you would suggest in particular? I think Cubase would be one of them since I have heard good things about it as an all-around DAW.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:36 pm

Dare I say Reaper? Many use it (including me) and, as it is 'open source' it is constantly being developed. It is also very cheap and very customisable and will definitely do what you need. But, yes, Cubase is good as are most of the usual suspects. I think Ableton Live and FL Studio are better suited to EDM but most of the others will do the job. I'd download some demo's and see which one clicks with you then come back for some specific advice.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby CS70 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:07 am

TrossProx wrote:I came across a similar post about choosing DAW and this forum gave great recommendations, so hopefully you'll indulge me here!

Here's what I can think of now as far as wishlist:

1) Versatility as far as musical styles. I do want to try trance/progressive production, but also things along the lines of film/video game scoring, jazz/rock, etc.
2) Great "musical" features, meaning features that make sense in a more "natural human" scenario. Such as ease of tempo change (gradual/sudden/give and take or rubato), and probably other things I can't think of right now. Basically, tools that would be desirable in an ensemble or orchestral production, not just dance/electronica.
3) Good MIDI interfacing with Sibelius. I understand this is fairly simple now (?), but maybe some DAWs work better or are less buggy.
4) (Bonus) I'm not set up for this currently, but I am interested in working with some live sounds especially in the context of recording ambient sounds, nature sounds, etc. This isn't strictly music, now getting more into the realm of audio track production for film etc., but maybe someone has an idea about this.

I know that's pretty broad, and I also know that DAWs have converged a lot in recent years. So maybe there isn't a "best" choice, but maybe something here will jump out at an experienced guru and you'll have a suggestion. Thanks!

These days, Cakewalk/Bandlab is a no brainer - a flagship DAW for free with all the features you can possibly imagine for making and mixing any kind of music. Then you can spend some cash on libraries and synths you like.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby desmond » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:08 am

Sonar/Cakewalk is now free and worth checking out as well.

So Sonar/Cakewalk, Reaper (free to try), ProTools (can use PT First for free to get a feel for Pro Tools), Cubase (can demo), Digital Performer is on Windows, then there's also Studio One and there are also some other DAWs like Traction, Mixbus and others that don't come instantly to mind.

Plenty to try out and see what you like!
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby TrossProx » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:53 am

CS70 wrote:
These days, Cakewalk/Bandlab is a no brainer - a flagship DAW for free with all the features you can possibly imagine for making and mixing any kind of music. Then you can spend some cash on libraries and synths you like.

Oh wow, I didn't know about this. I remember using a version of Cakewalk in a music program when I was a kid. I'm looking into it now.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby The Elf » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:53 am

For me it's Reaper for reasons of economy and Cubase for facilities. Either of these will do the job.

Cakewalk?... :beamup:
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Still Vibrations » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:10 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I think Ableton Live and FL Studio are better suited to EDM but most of the others will do the job.

That is no longer the case with Ableton, numerous people use it as a standard DAW now in arrangement view, including for recording rock groups.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby CS70 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:22 am

TrossProx wrote:
CS70 wrote:
These days, Cakewalk/Bandlab is a no brainer - a flagship DAW for free with all the features you can possibly imagine for making and mixing any kind of music. Then you can spend some cash on libraries and synths you like.

Oh wow, I didn't know about this. I remember using a version of Cakewalk in a music program when I was a kid. I'm looking into it now.

I used Sonar at my home studio and moved to the bandlab version without any fuzz. Rock solid and runs everything you can throw at it - including the free 32bit plugins from Bootsy, the free Tokyo Dawn, Melda, RoughRider etc which get you pretty much all high quality effects you need. It integrates with Melodyne, has a voice sync tool (I'm gonna learn to use in it anger just today since I'm putting in double vocals in the newer mix). The sequencer and the midi editor are top notch.

For non-recording purposes, all you need is to do then is to use some cash on some good libraries and a maybe drum machine which exposes a VST plugin, I use EZDrummer for demos.

Mixing is as good as it gets (the same of course can be said of Reaper, Cubase) and the platorm is rock solid.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Watchmaker » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:34 am

I use Studio One and love it. The functionality is deep and feature rich and it's been the most stable of any DAW I have experience with (Reason and PT). PTs bought me as a negative advertiser due to corporate arrogance and Reason has some very interesting and cool things but the interface was unappealing for my workflow. I still use some of the sounds in Reason (through Rewire) though so I keep that license.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Zukan » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:53 am

Been hearing good things about Studio 1. I believe The Knower is a fan.

I use Cubase, Reaper and MixBus only because I have to. For personal tastes Reaper wins for me. Most DAWs are bloated as they carry extensive sound libraries and so on ...However, Reaper is streamlined and can be customised using scripting.

The trials for most of these DAWs are pretty comprehensive so why not spend a day auditioning them?
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:56 am

:thumbup:
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby CS70 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:58 am

Zukan wrote:The trials for most of these DAWs are pretty comprehensive so why not spend a day auditioning them?

A day? You must be a very smart guy. It took me a week just to find out where to start ! :D
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Zukan » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:04 pm

lol
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:44 pm

DAW suggestion number 78... :roll:

If you're new to all this start with Audacity. It's free, but covers all the basic must-haves. Using that will get you used to using a DAW and give you some sort of knowledge when you look at some of the 'next level up' suggestions made here.

Learn-by-doing and then use that acquired knowledge before splashing the hard-earned.
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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby ef37a » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:17 pm

Samplitude never seems to get a look in at these DAWfest!

Probably not quite as good for MIDI as Cubase (later) but probably at least AS good as all the others mentioned? You can download a fully working 30 day trial of the big one (Pro X3 at least). It is a big chunk if you take all the samples etc but the DAW itself does not seem very resource hungry?

Cubase: My son used Elements 6 for MIDI work because it gave him the best latency with a 2496 sound card. He used Cakewalk for sounds but did not like the MIDI MO compared to Cubase. Once he had the stuff in the can the .wavs were transferred to Samplitude SE8 because that was easily the easiest to use. You can buy a cut down but powerful Cubase for less than Reaper (which is excellent in its way of course) and get a discounted upgrade should the mood take you.

You are PC, what sort of specification? You don't need Deep Thought but someing i5 or better?
Audio interfaces you have not mentioned but if I were setting up for son again I would live on beans on toast for a bit and go for RME. No brainer.

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Re: DAW to start with (plus other stuff I should know)

Postby tonemangler » Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:25 am

I am also in the Cakewalk by Bandlab camp. I believe Cakewalk started back in the 80's, that's a lot of years of development! I can't compare it to anything else because it's the only DAW I've ever used but I have never felt restricted by it. The only thing I would say is perhaps it's ability to work with video might not be as comprehensive as other programs, although I've never used it in that capacity so I'm not too sure. The fact is simple, if you are starting out, Cakewalk by BandLab provides you zero risk, it's totally free!! Which is completely mindblowing when you consider what you're getting!! Absolute no brainer IMHO.
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